What’s Happening to the Manhattan Bridge Bike Path at Canal Street?

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Cyclists who've crossed the Manhattan Bridge this summer should be familiar with this sight. It's the construction project at the foot of the bike path on the Manhattan side. This is the view from Canal and Chrystie.

We've been trying to find out exactly what's going on here, but so far the answers from DOT have been pretty vague. Here's what we know:

  • DOT is installing "access control improvements" on both sides of the Manhattan Bridge bicycle path and pedestrian path. A notice sent to local community boards last month says the project will prevent "unauthorized vehicle access" and "enhance safety" for pedestrians and cyclists. We later learned that this refers to the installation of bollards. So far, so good.
  • A reader reports that construction workers said they were shaving down the turning radius for vehicles at this corner. This is where drivers exiting the bridge turn right on to Canal Street. If this project gives drivers more space to make that turn, they'll take the curve faster right before crossing the path of cyclists exiting and entering the bridge. (Check after the jump for a shot of that intersection.) DOT's press office has neither confirmed nor denied that the finished project will include a turn designed for faster car speeds.
  • This is a "high-security" project and DOT won't release renderings or plans. The work, which is being carried out by the Army Corps of Engineers, will last until January.

When all is said and done, will this project encourage higher vehicle speeds at one of the most critical points in the city's bike network? Maybe that's the kind of thing the progressive elements within DOT won't allow to happen. One would certainly hope so.

You'd also think the new DOT wouldn't try to improve safety on Pelham Parkway in the Bronx by taking a few pages from the 1960s-era "forgiving highway" approach to street design. But they are.

Canal_street_at_night.jpgMotorists turning right onto Canal from the Manhattan Bridge immediately hit the signalized intersection where cyclists access the bridge. Photo: Neotint/Flickr.